Literary Context

1 Timothy 3:1-7

Outline of 1 Timothy

  • 1:1-2- Greeting

  • 1:3-20- Timothy’s responsibility while in Ephesus
    • 1:3-11- Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to deal with false teachers in Ephesus and their misuse of God’s Law
    • 1:12-17- Paul as an example of God’s grace
    • 1:18-20- Hymeneus and Alexander as examples of those who had succumbed to false teaching
  • 2:1-6:19- Paul’s instructions concerning how Timothy should fulfill his responsibility
    • 2:1-3:13- Content for Timothy to teach the church at Ephesus
      • 2:1-7- Pray for all people, especially those in positions of authority
      • 2:8-15- How men and women in the church should conduct themselves
      • 3:1-7- Qualifications for elders
      • 3:8-13- Qualifications for deacons
    • 3:14-4:16 -Specific commands for Timothy
      • 3:14-16- Timothy’s charge to teach the church concerning proper Christian living
      • 4:1-5- A reminder that false teachers should be expected and further description of the false teachers in Ephesus
      • 4:6-10- A reminder for Timothy to be fervent in Christian living
      • 4:11-16- A reminder for Timothy to faithfully complete the task he had been given
    • 5:1-6:2- Instructions for Timothy on dealing with various groups in the church
      • 5:1-2- Instructions concerning how Timothy should treat older men, younger men, older women, and younger women
      • 5:3-16- Instructions concerning widows in the church
      • 5:17-25- Instructions concerning church leaders
      • 6:1-2- Instruction concerning slaves and their masters
    • 6:3-6:19- Final instructions concerning the false teachers
      • 6:3-10- A condemnation of the false teachers and their greed
      • 6:11-16- A final encouragement for Timothy to faithfully complete the charge he had been given
      • 6:17-19- A final warning to the rich
  • 6:20-21- A concluding charge for Timothy

The Literary Setting of 1 Timothy 3:1-7

1 Timothy 3:1-7 falls within a larger section in which Paul is reminding Timothy of the kinds of things Timothy should be teaching the church in Ephesus. So this list of qualifications for church leaders is not just for Timothy, but it is for the church in Ephesus. The content of this section was meant to be taught to the church by Timothy, and then the church was to apply these qualifications in assessing their own leaders. The qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 would then serve as a guide for the Ephesian church to determine which of their leaders were sound leaders who were worthy of honor (1 Timothy 5:17), and which of their leaders were false teachers to be rejected.

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